Government warned against making ‘catastrophic’ funding cuts to British science

The government has been warned against making a series of potentially “catastrophic” funding cuts to scientific research, amid concern the sector could be deprived of billions of pounds in the coming years.

Both the prime minister and chancellor have outlined their intention to turn the UK into “a scientific superpower”, but such ambition is threatened by large financial gaps across the industry, leading experts and scientists have said.

Although the government has committed to increasing research and development spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, it is feared this will not repair the damage wrought by a potential shortfall in government research spending, as well as reductions in funding for two other areas of the British science sector.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a national agency which directs the government’s science funding, could be forced to pick up the £2bn bill needed to cover Britain’s participation in Horizon Europe – the EU’s flagship research programme – as outlined under the Brexit deal.

The previous financial commitment to Horizon 2020, which preceded Horizon Europe, came from the UK’s overall contribution to the EU, and not from the nation’s science budget. 


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